Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn

Infobox musical artist
Name = Van Cliburn
Img_capt =
Img_size =
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name = Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr.
Born = birth date and age|1934|07|12
Shreveport, Louisiana, United States
Instrument = Piano
Genre = Classical
Occupation = Pianist
Years_active =
Notable_instruments =

Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr. (b. July 12, 1934), is an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958, when at age 23, he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War.


Cliburn was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and began taking piano lessons at the age of three from his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn. O'Bryan was taught by Arthur Friedheim, [ [ Arthur FRIEDHEIM ] ] a pupil of Franz Liszt. At six years old, Cliburn moved with his family to Kilgore, Texas, and at twelve he won a statewide piano competition which enabled him to debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. He entered The Juilliard School at age 17, and studied under Rosina Lhévinne, who trained him in the tradition of the great Russian romantics. At age 20, Cliburn won the Leventritt Award, and made his Carnegie Hall debut.

It was his recognition in Moscow that propelled Cliburn to international fame. The first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 was an event designed to demonstrate Soviet cultural superiority during the Cold War, on the heels of their technological victory with the Sputnik launch in October 1957. Cliburn's performance at the competition finale of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 earned him a standing ovation lasting eight minutes. When it was time to announce a winner, the judges were obliged to ask permission of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to give first prize to an American. "Is he the best?" Khrushchev asked, "Then give him the prize!" Cliburn returned home to a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the only time the honor has been accorded a classical musician. His cover story in "Time" proclaimed him "The Texan Who Conquered Russia."

RCA Victor signed him to an exclusive contract, and his subsequent recording of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 became the first classical album to go platinum. It was the best-selling classical album in the world for more than a decade, eventually going triple-platinum. Cliburn won the 1958 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance for this recording.

Other famous concerti Van Cliburn has recorded include the Grieg Piano Concerto, Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 and No. 5 (Emperor), and the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3.

In 1962, Cliburn became the artistic advisor for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The competition was founded by a group of Fort Worth, Texas music teachers and volunteers, and its prestige now rivals that of the Tchaikovsky Competition.

Cliburn performed and recorded through the 1970s, but in 1978, after the deaths of his father and manager, began a hiatus from public life. In 1987, he was invited to perform at the White House for President Ronald Reagan and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, and afterwards was invited to open the 100th anniversary season of Carnegie Hall. In 1994, Cliburn made a guest appearance in the cartoon "Iron Man", playing himself in the episode "Silence My Companion, Death My Destination". Now over 70, he still gives a limited number of performances every year, to critical and popular acclaim. He has played for royalty and heads of state from dozens of countries, and for every President of the United States since Harry Truman.


Cliburn received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2001. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003 by President George W. Bush, and, in October 2004, the Russian Order of Friendship, the highest civilian awards of the two countries. He was also awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award the same year and played at a surprise 50th birthday party for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Personal life

In 1998, Cliburn was named in a lawsuit by his domestic partner of seventeen years, mortician Thomas Zaremba.cite news |first=Linda |last=Rapp |title=Cliburn, Van |url= | |accessdate=2008-03-01 ] In the suit, Zaremba claimed entitlement to a portion of Cliburn's income and assets, and went on to charge that he might have been exposed to HIV, and claimed emotional distress. Each claim was subsequently dismissed by an Appellate Court, citing palimony suits are not permitted in the state of Texas unless the relationship is based on a written agreement.


*cite news | author=Staff writers | title=The All-American Virtuoso | url=,9171,864368,00.html | work=Time | date=19 May 1958 | accessdate=2008-03-01
*cite web | author= | title=Court grants Pianist's ex-Partner Chance to Amend Suit | url= | work=AEGiS | publisher= National Library of Medicine | date=August 1997 | accessdate=2008-03-01
*cite interview | subject=Van Cliburn | interviewer=Scott Simon | type= | url= | format=Audio | program="Weekend Edition Saturday" | callsign=National Public Radio | city=Ft Worth / New York| date=1 March 2008 | accessdate=2008-03-01

External links

* [ The Van Cliburn Foundation]
* Van Cliburn [,16641,19580519,00.html 1958 "Time" magazine, ] cover image

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Van Cliburn — (nacido Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr., 12 de julio de 1934) es un pianista norteamericano que consiguió reconocimiento internacional en 1958, a los 23 años, cuando ganó el primer Concurso Internacional Chaikovski en Moscú, en plena Guerra Fría …   Wikipedia Español

  • Van Cliburn — (* 12. Juli 1934 in Shreveport, Louisiana als Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr.) ist ein US amerikanischer Pianist. Bereits im Alter von 4 Jahren spielte er Klavier. Mit 13 Jahren gewann er einen lokalen Wettbewerb in Texas, ein Jahr darauf den ersten… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Van Cliburn — Harvey Lavan Cliburn, plus connu sous le nom de Van Cliburn, né le 12 juillet 1934, est un pianiste américain célèbre pour avoir remporté, en 1958 à Moscou, en pleine Guerre froide, la première édition du Concours international Tchaïkovski.… …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Van Cliburn International Piano Competition — The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was first held in 1962 in Fort Worth, Texas. It was created by Fort Worth area teachers in honor of Van Cliburn, who had won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition four years prior with… …   Wikipedia

  • Van Cliburn International Piano Competition — Der Van Cliburn International Piano Competition ist ein internationaler Klavierwettbewerb, der seit 1962 alle vier Jahre in Fort Worth, Texas ausgetragen wird. Preisträger 2009 Haochen Zhang und Nobuyuki Tsujii (zwei Preise) 2005 Alexander Kobrin …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Concours international de piano Van-Cliburn — Le Concours international de piano Van Cliburn se tient à Fort Worth (États Unis). Lauréats 2009 Nobuyuki Tsujii et Haochen Zhang (ex æquos) 2005 Alexander Kobrin 2001 Stanislav Ioudenitch et Olga Kern (ex æquos) 1997 Jon Nakamatsu 1993 Simone… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cliburn (disambiguation) — Cliburn is a village in Cumbria. Cliburn may also refer to: Cliburn (surname), an English language surname (includes a list of name holders) Cliburn railway station People with the surname Van Cliburn (born 1934), American pianist Stan Cliburn… …   Wikipedia

  • Cliburn — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Rildia Bee Cliburn (1897–1994), US amerikanische Musikpädagogin Van Cliburn (* 1934; eigentlich Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr.), US amerikanischer Pianist Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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